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by Jeanne Brei

Nashville is known for its down-home cooking and hot fried chicken which you can check out at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Party Fowl, Pepperfire Hot Chicken, and Scoreboard Bar & Grill. Another Nashville food staple is the classic Southern-style, “meat and three,” where you go through a cafeteria-style line and order a meat and three sides. Places like Loveless Cafe, Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Swett’s, and Monell’s Dining will let you choose between fried chicken or meatloaf, mac & cheese or mashed potatoes, delicious pie or banana pudding. And then there’s the award-winning barbecue joints you’ll find including Martin’s BBQ Joint, Peg Leg Porker, Edley’s Bar-B-Que, Jack’s Bar B Que, Bar-B-Cutie and Puckett’s Grocery. Well-traveled foodies will appreciate Etch, Catbird Seat, Husk, 404 Kitchen, and Rolf and Daughters.

Closer to the Music City Center, Mellow Mushroom is a combination of great food, a live music venue, restaurant and bar with a beautiful view from their rooftop and Rippy’s Bar and Grill has two levels, three stages, an amazing open-air rooftop, private dining spaces, barbeque, cold beverages and live music. But as regular readers know, if I’m in downtown Nashville, I’d head to Black Rabbit, where you can be transported to a 1920s style upscale cocktail bar and dine on small plates and finger foods. Nashville chef Trey Cioccia, who also owns The Farm House, has crafted a cocktail bar and restaurant reminiscent of the early 1900s speakeasies that permeated Printer’s Alley once upon a time in downtown Nashville.

Black Rabbit is housed in a historic building dating back to the 1890s and attributes its name to a bygone New York cocktail bar. The space was once the law offices of Frank Ragano, legal counsel for Jimmy Hoffa and other notable figures of mafia notoriety, and is built around its intriguing history showing off 16-foot ceilings, exposed brick and original hardwood flooring. They left the original details intact in order to preserve the old-school energy that was already abundant throughout the building. The venue is a true ode to old Nashville and the storied past of the historic Printer’s Alley neighborhood in which it resides.

Black Rabbit boasts a large bar, spacious banquettes and a living room area, while an adjacent exterior patio offers open-air seating. There’s several weekly events and live entertainment, including a must-see cabaret show embodying the energy of Gatsby-era, swing-time band music. The Willies bring a modern marriage of jazz and blues, rockabilly and punk to the room and perform frequently at the Black Rabbit.

Their schedule includes Happy Hour, Mon.-Fri., 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., with $5 cocktails, wine, beer and a roaring good time for Happy Hour. Blockbuster Mondays Dance Party features DJ Majik with music from all of your favorite movies while the movie of the week plays in the background. Tuesdays they offer their signature burger: Two southern, natural beef patties topped with onions, pulled pork, swiss, and mustard BBQ sauce slow grilled over an open flame – while supplies last. On Taco & Tiki Thursdays they’re mixing street food like their famous trout, beef and potato tacos with some cocktails from the South Seas for folks on their way to Live on the Green. And you can catch them grilling on the patio every Saturday in the summer for BBQ in the Alley. Enjoy $10 BBQ Burgers and Andouille Dogs; $4 sides of house-made chips, grilled watermelon or corn; and cold canned beer.

Black Rabbit, 218 Third Avenue North Nashville, TN 37201. Telephone: 615-891-2380. For more info, visit www.blackrabbittn.com

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